Restaurant Review: Mizuna

Mizuna

Date of Dining: 9/34/12

The menu options at Mizuna were 1) An eight course chef’s tasting menu (with or without a wine pairing)– not even the waiter knew what was coming.  2) A five-course meal (with or without a wine pairing) that allowed you to choose an appetizer, salad, fish course, and meat course, and a chef-selected dessert course.  3) Select a la carte from the menu itself.  I wanted three appetizers, no salad, three fish and two meat courses so I opted for the 8-course w/Wine pairing so I didn’t have to make a decision.  The downside was that I didn’t get to have their signature dish – the Lobster Mac & Cheese.

Bread:  A bowl of homemade bread with free refills.  One slice of Kalamata olive bread and one slice of white bread.  My waiter told me the accompanying spread was a sea salt butter, but it was not salty at all.  A bit later, I heard the waiter tell the table next to me that it was a sweet cream butter, which made a heck of a lot more sense.  The slices were huge, so I only had one refill.

Opening Course:  Five items on one plate – A selection of appetizer/amuse bouche.  1) Squash gazpacho served in a shot glass.  It tasted exactly like gazpacho; I didn’t taste the squash at all.  2) Green olive tapenade on a brioche.  It was good, but I think I like a black olive tapenade better.  3) Salmon mousse.  It was by far the most disappointing dish I had all evening.  The cucumber (not known for its strong flavor) had more taste than the salmon.  I don’t know if it needed salt or something else, but bland was the word.  4) Escargot wrapped in bacon (or some other kind of pork).  Fortunately, this was much better than the salmon mousse, a fantastic bite.  5) Bite of duck confit.  Not sure what was on the bottom, but it tasted like a bean dip.  A really, really delicious bite of bean dip.  Pairing:  A pink sparkling wine from Alsace France in the brut style.  It was better with the food.

Second Course: “Amuse Bouche” I don’t think this was an amuse since it took about 20 bites to eat.  Sashimi grade Hamachi served with a chili oil and hot peppers.  As you might expect I loved this dish.  In retrospect, I wish I had licked the plate.  The first piece of Hamachi, I felt the chili oil drowned the taste of the fish even as good as the chili oil was.  The second piece I was able to get a bite without the chili oil and it was good, but definitely needed the chili oil.  It really needed the right balance between the chili oil and fish.  Pairing: An Austrian Wine that starts with a G – One of those really long German words that I can neither spell nor pronounce like Gruner-Veltliner.  A little acidic but paired excellently with the dish.

Third Course: Homemade pasta course.  Linguine with Little Neck Clams in a spicy tomato sauce.  The pasta was amazing and the sauce smelled like a pizza sauce.  It smelled like pizza sauce because there were little bits of pepperoni in the sauce.  The clams didn’t add much, but it was marginally better with the clams; the real star of the dish was the pasta.  Pairing: A Bougalais.  The wine stewardess sommelier rattled off the name of the winery way too quick for me to catch it.  My favorite wine of the evening.

Fourth Course: The Fish Course.  Florida Red Snapper in a beurre blanc sauce.  The fish tasted good and cooked perfectly, but unmemorable.  The sauce was the better part of the dish.  It had a little dill, maybe some parsley.  Either way I certainly remember the sauce more than the fish.  Pairing: A sauvignon blanc.  Again paired really well with the dish.

Fifth Course: Palate Cleanser.  A green apple sorbet floating in a Muscato.  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect palate cleanser – green apples are my favorite fruit and I always enjoy a good Muscato.

Sixth Course: The Meat Course.  NY Strip Steak with potatoes, asparagus and a Vidalia onion sauce.  First, I must give credit to the chef – I don’t like asparagus.  While I am willing to give it a shot at a nice restaurant, I never like it.  Until tonight!  It didn’t have the normal metallic taste that I always sense with asparagus.  The steak was very good and the potatoes were amazing.  I loved the sauce, but I made the mistake of trying to save some for the end and ended up having some left over.  I ate the sauce by itself.  Pairing: 2008 Atlas Peak Cabernet.  I didn’t enjoy this wine.  It had a bad after taste.  It didn’t improve with the dish.  I didn’t bother to finish it.

Seventh Course: The Cheese Course.  As anyone who has ever eaten with me knows that cheese is my chocolate.  I love cheese, but I was slightly disappointed.  The cheese itself was very good, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese that had the same consistency and flavor profile of a brie (but it wasn’t brie).  My problem, however, was that I only got the one piece of cheese.  I guess it was a course and not a cheese plate, so it was my problem not theirs.  I do think it would have benefitted from a drizzle of honey on the plate or over the nuts.  The bigger problem was that it only came with only a single small homemade cracker.  It was good, but half the size of the piece of cheese.  Worst of all, they took my bread away with my meat course.  Why would you take the bread before the cheese course, this makes no sense.  [I went to the restroom and they took it while I was gone so I couldn’t stop them].  Pairing: I have no idea what she said.  I asked twice.  Maybe I was drunk.  The wine was red.  From Spain perhaps?  It was good, certainly better than the Cabernet.

Eighth Course: The Dessert Course.  Gaylord Apple croquet with a caramel sauce and a quenelle of vanilla ice cream.  It was like an individual apple pie and very seasonally appropriate.  Pairing: Late harvest Sauvignon Blanc.  I always enjoy a good dessert wine and this didn’t have the cloying sweetness that some of the late harvest/ice wines have.

Overall, A good steady meal, with some small missteps along the way, but no major mistakes.  There was also nothing that made me stop and go “wow!”  So closer to the Everest end of the scale than the Alinea side of the scale.  From a value perspective it was twice as expensive as Fruition and not quite as good.  The better option would be to opt for the five-course select your own.  It is 40-45% cheaper than the 8-course and you could get whatever you wanted.  A no-brainer option in a small group where you can split a dish.

WWYT Rating: 8.4

Gayot Rating: 16/20

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